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Game developed by USW graduates becomes global top seller

A COMPUTER game released by Wales Interactive – founded by USW graduate Richard Pring – has become the top selling game around the world after being launched earlier this month.

Sker Ritual, a zombie horror game suitable for 1-4 players, is now in the top three downloaded titles on Steam, top five on Xbox and top 10 on PlayStation, as well as being one of the best sellers on PC and Console within a week of its release.

Richard, 36, who is originally from Devon and has lived in Cardiff since his studies, graduated from Computer Games Programming in 2009, followed by the MA in Animation in 2010. He established Wales Interactive in 2012, and now employs several USW graduates at the Cardiff-based studio – including Daniel Joseph, Richard Lee Rowlands, Lee Jeffery, Spas Dimitrov, Jack Martin, Ben Tester, Sam Leigh and Sophia Karlson.

Richard, speaking about his career in game development and the success of Sker Ritual, told the Herald: “I’ve always known that I wanted to go into the computer games industry.

“With my strong foundation in programming and technology, the degree at USW was an ideal fit for me. After focusing on programming, I pursued an MA because I wanted to lean towards a more technical artist role. I was very impressed by Gerald Emanuel, the course leader at the time, who emphasised not just the practical aspects of the field but also the broader focus on self-promotion, business acumen, and networking.

“That inspiration set me on the path to entrepreneurship in Wales. I loved Cardiff and wanted to stay local, but the limited game development opportunities meant I had to either create my own luck or move to larger gaming hubs, like Guildford, or beyond.

“So, I embarked on a business venture with a fellow graduate and Calon, an Animation company based in Cardiff Bay. Our focus was on merging Augmented Reality with clothing and animation – a novel concept in its early stages. Sadly, although the venture didn’t take off, it provided invaluable insights into the intricacies of entrepreneurship and company creation.

“While planning my next steps, a job opportunity then arose to map the gaming landscape in Wales – a perfect fit for me, as someone who was keen on both staying in Wales and understanding more of the local industry.

“This proved to be a great role. During the relatively short period of the Games Lab project, we celebrated some remarkable milestones; the standout accomplishment being the organisation of the first-ever Welsh Games Development showcase in 2011. It was a moment that brought together talent from every corner of Wales, at the Wales Millennium Centre, for a celebration of everything computer games!”

Regarding his cooperation with David Banner, Richard added: “While we did have some great accomplishments, the most pivotal aspect for me, in that role, was meeting my future business partner, David Banner. Without a clear name for it at that point, we made a bold decision: instead of just mapping the industry, we chose to bring it to life. This led to the co-founding of Wales Interactive – a journey we embarked on together.

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“Our original motivations for setting up the business were to create a significant games industry presence in Wales, and to tap into the local graduate talent pool that we knew existed in this area.

“Over the years, the company has worn many hats – from developers making our own games, to publishers creating and selling indie projects to the likes of PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo. Nowadays, as well as continuing to create and publish, we are set on making our mark on the world of interactive games, being the second largest publishers of Interactive Movies globally after Netflix!

“While our creative projects may have changed, our purpose hasn’t. Since it was founded, Wales Interactive has worked to create a hub for the games industry in Wales to give it a strong, unified voice, as well as showcasing its potential to the people of Wales and highlighting how the industry works and thrives. We have travelled extensively to games hubs across the world, from San Francisco to Japan, to make sure Wales is not only included, but regarded in the global games industry.

In describing the game, Richard said: “Sker Ritual is an intense, round-based, zombie horror shooter. Players can go solo or as teams of up to four, facing relentless waves of Quiet Ones whilst solving mysterious missions, uncovering Easter Eggs, upgrading steampunk weapons and obtaining Miracles – a vast network of Celtic God powers.

“It is set in 1914, where Elisabeth Williams has conquered Sker Island, and is now seeking domination with a broadcast of the Siren’s Song. Arianwen, her daughter, has opposed her, and after being mysteriously awakened, you must join her mission to thwart the broadcast and save the world from descending into hell.

“The game is not a direct sequel, but a spin-off from the award-winning British indie horror game, Maid of Sker. Sker Ritual has gained massive popularity due to its intense and engaging gameplay, as well as its interesting premise and appealing visual style. We developed a product to address a niche in the market, and I’m delighted that it holds its own among the top contenders in this industry genre.”